LoversLand is a new shop catering to offbeat brides (and the people that love them, plus all their friends). Open just a few weeks on Ossington , the romantic, relaxed store is the brainchild of three women aiming to add a sense of laid-back fun to the wedding-shopping process.
"We just treat people the way we want to be treated," says Danielle Gulic, who founded the shop with Yvonne Reidy, all friends who, fittingly, met through their partners. "It's a selfish approach, basically. It was like, 'What do we want?'"
Between the two of them, they've racked up retail experiences at J. Crew, where they met with brides-to-be and bridesmaids desperately seeking stylish, well-priced wedding attire; Twobirds, a brand of convertible dresses that caters to brides and bridesmaids.
In addition, they also planned their own weddings or served as bridesmaids (13 times, in Reidy's case) and saw friends struggling with the planning process, being overwhelmed at wedding tradeshows and, occasionally, by overbearing sales associates.
"Couples have changed so much, and this industry has kind of stayed the same for so long," Gulic says, adding that today's brides and grooms want their wedding to be a reflection of who they are, not what their families want; they also tend to be more likely to pay for the festivities themselves, and grooms are more likely to take a hands-on approach to planning.
Their more modern take on a bridal salon mixes a number of reasonably-priced bridal gowns ($1,000 to $7,000) with wearable, easy-to-fit bridesmaids dresses, a selection of neat products ready for grooms, groomsmen and guy friends, and other gift-ready knick-knacks.
The all-white store is a far cry from the heavy, overstuffed, tulle-swathed vibe you might expect from the average bridal salon. For the most part, it's pared-down and sleek, like any other white-walled, industrial-chic boutique in town - save for the gigantic yurt-like tent that takes up the entire back of the shop, where the bridal dresses are kept.
The shop stocks a half-dozen or so bridal designers. Nicole Miller offers a wide range of styles that trend toward more comfy, stretchy, wearable designs, with prices as low as $700 for shorter dresses.
While Rue de Seine is a boho-oriented line out of New Zealand.
The trying-on process, Gulic says, can be as intense or as chill as you want it to be: "If you want to get the champagne, and be excited - because it is exciting - or if you want to do it by yourself, and it's like 'I need a white dress, we're going to City Hall' - whatever your schtick is, we just want to be like 'That's cool. Great.'"
For bridesmaids, there's the aforementioned Twobirds line, an exclusive to the shop in Toronto. The dresses, which come in only two sizes (but fit everyone), are made from a loose jersey material and can be tied in a vast number of ways, making for a super-easy solution to creating a cohesive look for bridesmaids and dressing tough-to-fit women.
There's also a selection of shorter white dresses (for the reception, City Hall, or just 'cause), honeymoon-ready swimwear, and lingerie by local label Fortnight.
In the gift shop at the front, there's vintage cufflinks for gents ($40), scented candles, cards, and a few more unusual bridal wear ideas: A teddy-bear-fur coat from Ganni , as well as a sharp white tuxedo ($295) from the Danish brand.
"Wear a Ganni jacket over your wedding dress, and you could wear it with jeans and a T-shirt," Gulic explains. "This is what we want to do - is teach brides they can still be themselves on their wedding day."